Submitted: September 21, 2017
from United States District Court for the Northern District
of Iowa - Dubuque
SMITH, Chief Judge, WOLLMAN and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.
WOLLMAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
convicted Randy Joe Metcalf of committing a hate crime in
violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate
Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, 18 U.S.C. § 249(a)(1)
(the Act). The district court sentenced Metcalf to the
statutory maximum sentence of 120 months' imprisonment.
Metcalf appeals, arguing that the Act is unconstitutional
because Congress lacked the authority to enact it under the
Thirteenth Amendment. Metcalf also argues that the district
court erred in denying his request for a proposed jury
instruction on character evidence and that the evidence was
insufficient to support his conviction. We affirm.
January 11, 2015, Metcalf and his fiancee Noelle Weyker went
to a bar in Dubuque, Iowa, where Metcalf met a friend, Jeremy
Sanders (Jeremy) and Jeremy's son, Joseph Sanders
(Joseph). As the evening progressed, Metcalf, Weyker, Jeremy,
and Joseph drank alcohol and played pool. As recorded by the
bar's surveillance cameras, at around 11:00 p.m. Metcalf
became involved in an argument with Katie Flores, Sarah
Kiene, and Lamarr Sandridge, an African American man.
Although the confrontation was mostly verbal, Metcalf pushed
Sandridge before Becky Burks, the bartender, and Ted Stackis,
the bar's owner, intervened.
the confrontation, Metcalf spoke with Stackis, bragging about
how he had burned crosses at an African American family's
home in Dubuque. Metcalf told Stackis, "I hate f---ing
n----rs, " and asked if Stackis wanted anyone taken care
of. Metcalf and Stackis then went outside, where Metcalf
showed Stackis his swastika tattoo and repeated how he
"hate[d] them f---ers."
night continued, Metcalf, Flores, and Kiene continued to
harass each other, with Metcalf referring to Flores and Kiene
as "n----r loving c--ts" and "n----r
lovers." Metcalf also continued to use the word
"n----r." The women responded by calling Metcalf a
"stupid f---er." While visiting with Jeremy,
Metcalf displayed his swastika tattoo and said,
"That's what I'm about."
in the bar peaked around 1:20 a.m., when Kiene confronted
Metcalf. Weyker started recording the confrontation on her
cell phone and a fight ensued when Flores slapped
Weyker's phone out of her hands. During the melee,
Metcalf charged at Flores, hit her in the head, slammed her
into the bar, and pulled her to the ground by her hair. Other
individuals then piled on top of each other. Trying to stop
the attack, Sandridge struck Metcalf a few times. Jeremy then
grabbed Sandridge and held him in a headlock, while son
Joseph punched Sandridge in the face ten to fifteen times. As
people got up from the floor, Metcalf pushed past Jeremy and
Flores to get to Sandridge, who was lying disoriented on the
floor. Metcalf then repeatedly kicked and stomped on
Sandridge's head, saying, "f---ing n----r" and
"die n----r" until Burks pushed him away.
left the bar momentarily, but he soon returned and maneuvered
around the people standing near Sandridge. As Sandridge lay
on the ground, dazed from the initial attacks, Metcalf kicked
and stomped on Sandridge's head a second time, continuing
in his attack until Flores pushed him away. Metcalf responded
by slapping Flores to the ground and walking away. The day
following the attack, Metcalf told Jeremy that "the
n----r got what he had coming to him."
was indicted on one count of violating Section 249(a)(1) of
the Act. The indictment alleged that Metcalf had
"willfully caused bodily injury to [Sandridge], who is
African American, because of [Sandridge's] actual or
perceived race, color, and national origin." Metcalf
challenged the indictment on constitutional grounds and filed
a motion to dismiss, which the district court denied.
parties agreed during trial that Metcalf had attacked
Sandridge, leaving for the jury the question whether
Sandridge's race was the reason for the attack. Witnesses
for the government, including Stackis, Flores, Kiene, Burks,
and Jeremy, testified about Sandridge's use of the word
"n----r, " his swastika tattoo, and his statements
made throughout the night of the attack and the next day. In
response, Metcalf called seven witnesses who had seen him
interact with African American people, all of whom testified
that they believed Metcalf was not racist. Based on this
testimony, Metcalf requested the following jury instruction:
You have heard the testimony of (Witness}, who said that the
defendant has a reputation and character for a lack of
racism. Along with all the other evidence you have heard, you
may take into consideration what you believe about the
defendant's lack of racism when you decide whether the
government has proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the
defendant committed the crime. Evidence of the
defendant's lack of racism ...